Tunnel Avenue Cleansing Station



The structure, erected on pile and beam foundations is on one level and the facing brickwork of “Sevenoaks” stocks imparts a pleasing warm effect to the whole exterior elevation.  A feature of the building is the provision of three entrances, one each for the laundry, the baths, and the treatment room, to enable all services to function simultaneously with the minimum of congestion and confusion. Floors are of solid concrete overlaid with “Semtex” P.V.C. tiling which again gives a bright but warm appearance to the interior avails to entrance hall, corridor, waiting rooms, bathrooms, W.Cs., children’s department and staff cloaks are all finished in cement glazing with egg-shell oil paint to all ceilings and the remaining walls.

All rooms concerned with the treatment of patients or handling of laundry are furnished with fluorescent lighting giving excellent working visibility.  With the exception of bathrooms where additional electrical heaters have been installed, all heating is by thermostatically controlled gas-fired boilers equipped with electric time switches for automatic operation.


This is supplied by an Ideal Boiler having a capacity of 142,000 B.T.Us per hour working on an indirect system tunnel avenue coverincorporating a 200-gallon calorifier and storage cylinder.


Room temperatures are maintained by radiators of the hospital type supplied by an Ideal Boiler of a capacity of 118,000 B.T.Us per hour.


A “Controlled Flame” gas-fired boiler of a capacity of 200 lbs per hour provides steam at a pressure of 60 lbs. per sq. in. for the “Ritchie Decoudun” ironer, which is electrically driven.  This boiler is of such size that if the necessity arises, steam sufficient for two ironing machines could be supplied.


On arrival at the Centre the laundry is sorted, checked and pre-rinsed, being washed in one of the three “Bendix” commercial-type washing.  The time allocated for the washing of laundry is obviously dependent condition of the articles to be laundered.  After washing, water is extracted from the laundry in the “Bendix” extractor and from there the articles are transferred to the “Bendix” tumbler dryer which thereby renders all but the thickest or very materials ready for ironing.


The electrically driven “Ritchie Decoudun” steam-heated ironing with its continuously revolving roller permits uninterrupted working added advantage of delivering the articles back to the operator on the Steam consumption is at the rate of approximately 60/65 lbs per hour at of 60 lbs. per sq. in. with the condensate being returned to the boiler.  Subsequent to ironing, the laundry is conveyed to the airing room obviates the necessity for outside drying.  To this end, some heating primary circuit has been introduced with an electric fan to provide air flow.


Low, dropped-side baths have been provided and sited to enable it to operate from both sides without restriction—a very necessary precaution when dealing with the elderly. In addition to the normal background space heaters, electric heaters have been provided in the bathrooms in order that a constant temperature may be maintained.  From the very pleasant waiting rooms the patients are conducted to the bath where after bathing they receive some minor foot treatment and for this special task footbaths have been installed.

During the following half-hour they are provided with a cup of hot tea with biscuits and an opportunity to sit whilst waiting for transport home.  In this room, designed mainly for the treatment of verminous persons standing basins have been installed, again in order that treatment can be conducted from either side without restriction and, further, two electric dryers are available.

This new cleansing and bathing centre is to provide for the logical development of services for the elderly citizens of Greenwich which were commenced on a modest scale in September, 1954. In that year about 5,000 articles from aged, infirm and incontinent persons were being laundered per annum and a few carefully selected patients were bathed either in their own homes or at the old premises.  There was, at that time one ordinary domestic washing machine in use and laundry and bathing duties were being performed by one lady attendant.

By 1960, such was the expansion that over 30,000 articles were laundered and nearly 2,000 baths were given in that year.   The staff had been increased to the equivalent of four full-time attendants who were by then using four large capacity domestic washing machines.tunnel avenue laundry 2

Recent census figures indicate that there are now nearly 12,000 citizens in Greenwich over the age of 65. They constitute over 13% of the populace—a rise of over 3% in the space of 10 years. Present population trends suggest that by 1977 one citizen in five in this borough will be of pensionable age. It had, therefore, long been apparent that increased facilities were needed.  At last permission was given by the Government to build a new centre and this building has been designed specifically to cater for the cleansing needs of the elderly. Opportunity has been taken also to provide modern facilities for the cleansing of schoolchildren and for the treatment of scabies and verminous conditions. It is hoped that the facilities now provided will meet in the future the increased needs of an ageing population for certain basic services which, although perhaps lacking in glamour, are necessary for the well-being and indeed the self respect of those citizens who become handicapped or neglected in advanced years. These services are part of the wider concept of prevention of illness and promotion of health in this particular field and will supplement the already extensive home visiting of the elderly which is undertaken by the Women Health Officers and also the work of the Old People’s Welfare Association on which are co-opted most of the voluntary agencies concerned with the welfare of the aged.  It may be of interest to note that home visits by the Women Public Health Officers to the old people during the last year totalled 5,700 and the number of old people on the register in the Health Department who have been found to require regular visiting and supervision is now over 1,200 and is increasing every week

It is felt that, apart from the laundering and bathing facilities provided in this building, the mere contact with the outside world which a visit to this centre will give is of inestimable benefit to elderly home-bound citizens. An attempt has been made to make the centre friendly and bright and it is hoped that the old folk who make use of it will look forward to their regular visits as much as they did to the outdated building where so much valuable and pioneer work in this new sphere was performed.


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